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Should The Darker Realistic Approach In Today’s Superhero Movies Still Continue?

Darker reboots. Cinema in the naughties can be summed up by those two words, especially with comic book/superhero movies, thanks in part to Christopher Nolan’s and his re-imagining of DC Comics’ Dark Knight in Batman Begins (2005). The British director’s realistic re-interpretation of Batman was a critical and box office success, lauded for its grittiness and “humanity”, with the focus of Bruce Wayne’s emotional journey as the hero “…Gotham City deserves, but not the one it needs.”, according to Commissioner Gordon.

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Batman Begins birthed two sequels, The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Both also were box-office hits and well received by critics. Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy influenced several movies to re-imagine their character’s and stories in the same light. X-Men: First Class, The Amazing Spider-Man, Man Of Steel, and even Craig Daniel’s James Bond, said MTV Movie Blog Writer Shawn Adler. Directors such as Matthew Vaughn have openly state how Nolan’s filmmaking has influenced them to take a realistic approach in superhero movies.

Christopher Nolan

This method has become a trend in Hollywood. It worked quite well for Batman because, well, he IS dark. Even in the comics. The Dark Knight Trilogy deftly examined the deep emotional and psychological trauma of Bruce Wayne witnessing his parent’s death, which then led him to take on the mantle of the bat.

But does this “realism” work for other characters or movies? Let’s take a look:

CINEMA VERITE

To film buffs, this term comes up quite a lot. Cinema verite (veri-tey) translated from French means “truthful cinema”, meaning the activities recorded in front of the camera are not directed, scripted, or altered in any way. They are taken as is.

That is why early footage of cinema were shorts of real things happening such as a train passing by a station and people having tea at home. This can be summarized as “Reality”, or a capital “R”.

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The set of the movie, 300, before & after editing.

As cinema progressed, directors realized that they couldn’t just capture cinema verite, but could create their own stories and film them. Ergo, they built a “reality” where events were constructed or altered according to their creativity. This is called “reality”. It can be summarized with a small “r”.

TODAY

Today, most movies are made primarily for entertainment and spectacle. Very few documentaries can be counted as “cinema verite”. In a way, reality is altered. Most easily, you can count them as reality with a small r, not a big R.

What do comic movies fall into? Since these kinds of movies are based on these amazing larger-than-life personas who were all born from paper, these movies count as “r”. I think it’s safe to say that superheroes don’t exist in real life. Has anyone really seen the Avengers flying around NYC stopping the latest evil villain threat? Yeah, my point exactly.

Since we’ve discussed what cinema and superheroes are, how do these two coincide with the darker reboots? There are two sides to this coin, and we’ll take a look at these via pros and cons.

PROS

Rebooting a series with a “realistic” feel to it gives an old franchise a fresh approach. An example would be the Star Trek re-imagined by J.J. Abrams in 2009. While the old Star Trek films delved into philosophy and the Enterprise crew’s journey in space, the new films are character-centered, focused mainly on the relationship of Spock and James Kirk.

Star Trek TV Series Star Trek Nemesis Star Trek Into Darkness

It also gave new fans an appreciation of the franchise, which was healthy, since the last Star Trek film was Nemesis way back in 2002. This also worked for James Bond in Casino Royale. Instead of a debonair ladies’ man, here we’re treated to a Bond who’s wonderfully human: An agent bruised and battered, inside and out.

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Toying with the idea of these characters existing along with us in real life is also a plus. It gives us a peek into the quirks of the titular characters. For example: The pain and isolation of Batman/Bruce Wayne. The same goes for Marc Webb’s Spider-Man/Peter Parker, since Nolan influenced him. This also applies for Superman/Clark Kent. Majority of the screen time in Man Of Steel was apportioned to the search of his identity and purpose in the world in an attempt humanize an alien (Clark Kent is Kryptonian). Admittedly, that is something totally relatable to moviegoers.

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However, there are cons to having darker, gritty movie remakes. For one, the “Wow” factor is totally lost. Remember watching Superman: The Movie in 1978 or Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989? When they came out on screen for the first time, it took everyone’s breath away in amazement. No one could believe these iconic characters were popping right in front of their eyes. Even if Batman did have that dark quality about him, everyone was mesmerized by Keaton’s performance. Due to the realistic approach in movie remakes, characters are forced to be introspective and brooding. Seriously, can you imagine Superman being…emo? Exactly. Because he isn’t. It works for Batman, yes. But what works for Batman doesn’t go for Supes. They’re two completely different characters. That’s where MoS failed. In making it grim, Zack Snyder lost the amazement of bringing Superman to life. Instead of going “Wow!”, audiences reacted with a resounding “What?”

why so serious

Another downside is that movies take themselves too seriously. And not a lot of people watch to think. They watch to be entertained, not have their brain turned to mush by a cinematic blender. That’s the main difference between the DC and Marvel Cinematic Universe. DC tries too hard, maybe because they’re playing catch up. Marvel’s got the ball in their court. Have you seen The Avengers? It’s got everything blended perfectly: Action, humor, conflict, and a bit of that angst among some characters. Nothing goes overboard.

So to answer the question, no, this realistic approach should not continue any longer in comic book movies. The trend is getting pretty stale. Some new direction and perspective is due. As long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is gladly welcomed. It is worth looking forward to a superhero movie that brings back all that awe and excitement; one that won’t make you go “What?” at the end, but “Wow!”…

6 Actors Who Are Typecast In Similar Roles

When watching films, sometimes there’s a sense of déjà vu, especially when you get used to the same actor play the same character model again and again. It’s undeniably true. Some actors have become so good that hey shine in that particular role. Others have become typecast because they’ve played archetype over, and over, and over again. Here are 6 actors in today’s cinema that are typecast in certain molds.

#1: Liam Neeson | Archetype: The Father Figure

One look at Neeson’s recent film roles and you’ll agree to this. He plays a father figure-cum-Messianic figure to the Pevensie siblings as Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe; to Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker as Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace; to Burce Wayne as Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins and Talia as revealed in The Dark Knight Rises; ex-CIA agent Brian Mills and kick-ass father who scours the world for his daughter, and later, his family in Taken and Taken 2, respectively; and Admiral Shane in the recent Battleship.

Admittedly, though, the typecast suits him. Especially with the Taken film series. Who wouldn’t want a dad who’d beat up terrorists and take down criminal organizations halfway across the globe just to save your life?

#2: Reggie Lee | Archetype: The Asian Sidekick/Henchman

He played Tai Huang, second fiddle to Chow Yun Fat’s Captain Sao Feng in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Sergeant Wu on Grimm, and Quan Chang in Safe to name a few.

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His characters are always in the sidelines, with minimal lines, instead of the forefront. It’d be interesting to see him play a crime lord or gang leader. As to when, only time will tell.

 #3: Eddie Murphy and #4: Chris Tucker | Archetype: The Talkative Black Guy

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Never mind if he’s in a fat suit (The Nutty Professor films) or the voice behind an animated creature (Mulan and the Shrek series), Eddie Murphy is always the character with the hyperactive mouth. Even as Jack McCall in 2012’s A Thousand Words was jinxed not to speak, it was a bit off-putting. Really, Eddie Murphy’s character NOT talking? That’s a first.

In Chris Tucker’s short body of work, even he can’t be dismissed from this mold. From The Fifth Element all the way to Rush Hour’s 1, 2, and 3, he’s running his mouth, with a high-pitched voice to match his talkativeness to boot.

#5: Samuel L. Jackson | Archetype: Himself

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In nearly all his movies, you can tell the moment he opens his mouth that he’s playing himself. It’s like the guy brings the same attitude with him in all his roles. It’s getting pretty stale, Sam. Even as a Jedi in the Star Wars prequels we were waiting for you to go all Jules Winnfield on Yoda Anakin the Emperor* ANYBODY!

#6: Michelle Rodriguez | Archetype: The Macho Girl

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Have you seen any of her films? Right off the bat: The Fast & The Furious movie series, S.W.A.T. (where she co-starred with actor #5), and Avatar, she’s always the tough girl/tomboy, or quite simply: a girl doing a man’s job. And she’s totally fine with it .

Why We Should Give Ben Affleck A Chance As The New Batman

 

When news struck about Ben Affleck becoming the new Batman in the Man of Steel sequel, comic book fans and geeks alike were enraged. Honestly, it did feel like a sucker punch that left us all in a doozy. I mean, who can ever forget the horrible superhero movie that was Marvel’s Daredevil, where he starred as the titular character back in 2003? It was horrible. Somehow, that image of Ben never left, making that the main basis for the criticism. When I heard about this, I was also shocked. But after a moment, I suspended my disbelief and said on Facebook that I was looking forward to Ben’s interpretation Batman, hoping he doesn’t pull a Daredevil with this one.

Bat Affleck

Take that haters!

Most of the comments have been negative. Understandable, since we’re still fresh from Christian Bale’s memorable portrayal of Gotham’s Dark Knight. But let’s look at the bright side for a moment and see why the ex-Daredevil star, now affectionately called Bat Affleck, should be given a chance.

Reason #1: Surprise!

Affleck joins an exclusive group of actors who were first heavily disapproved, but later on lauded, for their casting as movie characters. Remember Heath Ledger? He was terribly amazing as Batman’s antithesis The Joker in Nolan’s Dark Knight (2008), even posthumously winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the 81st Academy Awards a year later.

The Joker

Welcome to the club, Ben!

But prior to nabbing his movie role magnum opus, Ledger was negatively criticized as not being “fit” to play The Joker because of his past movies like A Knight’s Tale and 10 Things I Hate About You.

Another actor who was also criticized for being cast as Batman was Michael Keaton! Widely regarded as a comedic actor, he was also deemed unfit to play the Dark Knight. It was only until the release of Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) where the naysayers shut their mouths. His performance was well received. Keaton’s Batman arguably remains one of the best portrayals ever seen.

Reason #2: It’s time for a re-invention.

Let’s face it, after Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, a reboot for the character was inevitable. Affleck has the opportunity to re-interpret one of DC’s most beloved characters. It’ll be interesting to see which aspects of the character he’ll embody onscreen. Bale was realistic and brooding in and out of the cowl, while Keaton was dark and twisted, with gravitas, owing to the direction of Tim Burton.

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Batman has other traits that have yet to be brought to life, such as his detective skills, physicality and strength as a fighter (he is considered an Olympian-level athlete in the comics), and the highly intellectual, calculating, and ever-ready tactician (he is ready for possibly any threat). It will be exciting to see which of these, or others unmentioned, Bat Affleck will bring.

Reason #3: He could be a good creative influence.

Aside from being an actor, Ben Affleck is also a commended director. He directed the critically acclaimed The Town and Argo, which won 3 Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing).

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What does this mean? Aside from acting chops, he brings with him movie-making experience. He could give Snyder tips on how to balance and further characterize Superman and Batman.

Reason #4: He’s got the blessings of previous Batmen and then some.

Val Kilmer, Adam West, and even Michael Keaton have given him their approval. It seems they’ve passed on the cowl to a worthy successor.

Can’t believe it? Here’s Michael Keaton’s approval of Bat Affleck recorded by TMZ:

Others who have voiced their support for Ben are BFF Matt Damon who said,

“I think it will be great. It will be terrific. I know there are a lot of people grousing on the Internet. I just think it’s kind of funny. You know, he’s not playing King Lear. It’s Batman! Certainly within his skill set…”

And Kevin Smith, who is one of the actor’s good friends and has frequently worked with him rose to Ben’s defense on Twitter during the height of the criticisms.

Here’s one last word…from none other than Batman himself:

There was this online petition created last month saying Warner Bros. should take out Affleck as the new Batman. They’ve said that that the number of signatures could possibly have reached more than a hundred thousand by now. Only time will tell how Ben will do as Gotham City’s protector. Personally, I can’t wait for all these haters to be proven wrong when he blows them away with his depiction of the Dark Knight.